Friday, November 28, 2014

Filmography, The

While I have a Flickr and a Tumblr photoblog (and a forgotten Blogger photography blog), I never really touched on my minor filmography.

While I was in the Photography program at Algonquin, there was a video component, just as there was a web design component - both in a class called multimedia. The result was several short videos I created due to assignments. They're all on YouTube, but you can't find them because they're all unlisted. Until now.

I created four videos in that class, all of which I'm going to embed here, with a short description. Some are simple and others are intended to be funny or interesting.

"Justin Pushes a Tripod Around (Like Usual)"

I should note right away that all videos were required to have their own music, which didn't appeal to me, so instead of doing what everyone else in class did - using free music that I wasn't going near - I simply added my own simplistic demos as background music. They're not great or perfect, but it was a stupid requirement. The Nikon camera I used had a time-lapse function. I simply just inched the tripod after the camera took an image during class time.

"Missed Call"

Other than the horrible-sounding demo music, this was based off of the simple direction that we had to film someone answering the phone. Creativity was up to us. This was the first time I had my friend Benny help me out. He filmed using a Canon 5D (which was required for all video assignments due to its full-frame sensor).
I should note that I did not actually throw a cell phone at the end. It was actually a black plastic case my clip-on shades came in. I accidentally threw it at a truck parked just off-camera. Driving at speed up the driveway took two takes (no, I did not crash or otherwise miss the driveway the first time. It was Benny's blurry filming).

"How to Make Iced-Tea"

The instructions were a silent instructional video. Benny filmed again, using a video tripod. The requirement was ten scenes at least, so I just multiplied the scenes of my spooning iced-tea powder into the glass ridiculously. I'm missing my facial hair in this video. The colouring is horrible thanks to my incompetence at colour-correction in Adobe Premier.

"Restoring Audio Gear, etc. With a Focus on a Bose 1801 Power Amp"

This was the longest and most intimate video I had to make. It was an interview video. My longest friend, Duncan, fixes and restores audio gear from the 70s and 80s in his basement. I filmed while Benny held a makeshift boom mic. It was quite fun to do. The only drawback is the incessant music. The demo itself isn't too bad but I had to repeat it to finish the video with it. The only other issue is the limited depth of field (difficult to focus perfectly as a result). If you listen carefully you might hear me whispering at Benny not to play with the microphone.

"Soma Commercial"

The last video (that I at least put on YouTube). This wasn't my first idea - originally, I was going to make a spoof of a 1998 Volvo commercial featuring Tony Hale moving to music in a car (shown from the silent exterior view, so you don't realize exactly what he's doing until a friend walks up and opens the door, revealing the music). Benny had helped me out on that one as well, filming me in the car from outside, etc., and entering the car at the end. Unfortunately, I'd handed in the 5D camera without taking any of the footage off of the card, having forgotten, so all of it was wiped out. Overdue by that point, I came up with a fast idea to spoof those Viagra commercials and filmed the whole thing in the ER at the college. The name - 'Soma' - is a direct reference to the psychedelic drug featured in the dystopian novel 'Brave New World.'

Out of all of these videos I like this one the most because of its simplicity and editing. Also, instead of using the normal low-quality boom mics I'd been using in some of the other videos, I used a proper Hn1 Zoom recorder (the highest quality sound recording method available to us) to get the sound in this video. It's hidden behind the stuff sitting on the counter, just out of camera view. The only issues I had were, once again, the unusually limited depth of field focusing. Otherwise it's simple and kind of funny, especially the way Dave just dumps five tripods on the counter at once in the end. Benny didn't take part in this session. It didn't take too long either, other than the students coming in to get equipment (Dave had to deal with them). There weren't too many interruptions, thankfully.

That's the basic filmography. I never really thought of it until I looked back over these videos again tonight. A few are simplistic basic boring things like the time-lapse, others are plain silly like the missed call, and a couple aren't half bad like the interview or the commercial spoof. Maybe I'll make more in the future. Who knows. I've written a few little scripts. I tried filming a pseudo-television episode called 'Bearded Escapade' about me trying to figure out what to send to my father in Jordan, and I approach people in my family as well as friends. Only two scenes ever got filmed though, and with a replacement cousin for my intended cousin (her brother) which screwed up the whole process and just made it look and sound extremely amateur. Then circumstances happened that summer that effectively made me uninterested in continuing.

Anyway, those are there as a start. I really like the Soma one. It's neat to look at them again.

Red Cloud

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Five Best Childhood Films, The

This morning the thought of listing my five best childhood films came to mind, and it didn't take me long to list them. A few others came and went, but they don't retain or create that unique synesthetic picture and feeling that I got from the others that installed me virtually back in to that time.

After a days' ponder about it, I've come up with these five, with one being the 'best.'

5. Mr. Magoo
4. Born to be Wild
3. Matilda
2. Homeward Bound
1. Paulie

The first four I've already reviewed on here (what they're hyperlinked to). As for the fifth, Mr. Magoo, I never came around to reviewing it because I never got the extreme want to look it up again online. I might. As a child, it was something I remember renting from the Parkwood Hills Foodland numerous times, first at my mother's suggestion (she thought I'd like it, and she was right) and subsequently whenever I saw it on the rack again on visits to the store.

Notable mentions that didn't get included on that list are Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Lion King, Space Jam, and Ernest Rides Again. Mousehunt almost got on there, but it was more of a fringe movie for me, something I'd watch occasionally at my paternal grandparents. I got more interested in the movie when I was closer to a preteen and still like it now, but it wasn't exactly a childhood movie for me.

I should note that every movie on that list (including the notable mentions) were all released in the 90s. Which makes sense as that was the decade of my real childhood (not including the preteen phase between 10 & 13), though I'm sure there are other children out there who have favourites that were released before they were born. Also, every one of them excluding Matilda has an animal character in them - from the gorilla in Born to be Wild to the parakeet in Paulie. Homeward Bound is about three animals finding their way home. Mr. Magoo's dog has a role.

In each review, I wrote a synopsis of the film and my thoughts and feelings on it, as well as my findings in seeing them again as a grown man. I re-read each of my reviews today; they aren't too badly written, although I had a real fussy reaction in seeing in the Homeward Bound post that I'd written "in the enlightened year of 1993..." I had to delete that phrase because I knew too well that I'd made that remark based on the fact that the girl I was "dating" was born that year, and therefore as a compliment I'd put in "enlightened." Stupid. I vow never to phrase in biases or remarks that indirectly or subliminally speak to positive or negative relationships in the future.

Here I'm going to write a short rationale for why I added a film and where. And I'm going to ensure I stick to 'short.'

5. Mr. Magoo

I really need to re-watch it again and write a proper review. It's included at five because I got a real synesthetic universe exclusive to my childhood world when I watched it at a young age (this 'exclusive universe' is a main factor in all those movies being included). Of what I can remember, I enjoyed the quick pace of the film and the various settings, all in fast shots, and I really enjoyed the adventure. One thing I remember with clarity is a scene that had to do with Magoo's eggplant vehicle pulling out of a driveway while 'I Can See Clearly Now' by Johnny Nash is playing. That was the first time I'd ever heard the song and it meshed with the imagery, giving me a nice synesthetic mesh.
On another note, the film got a lot of negative reaction from the blind or nearly blind due to its humour being derived from the sight problems of the main character.

4. Born to be Wild

It's one of those road trip adventure films, which was probably one reason I liked it when I was young, as the teen, Will, drives, paddles, and hitchhikes a gorilla up the California coast. The opening sequence where the titles, all green, fly through the camera as it pans over wilderness, though, really applied to that childhood universe and perception to me - it looked pre-dawn from my perspective and likely made me think of trips to the cabin with my dad and cousins, but early in the morning. It came out in 1995, which I synesthetically perceive in that light already. The issue I had with the film then, and now, though, was how weepy the main character was, and how overly sentimental a couple of scenes were. And a large reason I went back to watch it again was because I was shocked at how many actors I'd come to know in my teenage and recent years happened to have supporting roles in it, from Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off to Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. It was neat to see them in those roles in that film.

3. Matilda

This is #3 because of the large amount of attention I've paid to it since re-watching it a couple of years ago. The movie gave me some childhood sounds and scenes such as Mara Wilson and Agatha Trunchbull, or that Rusted Root song. It was a colourful vignette of a film that appealed to my young eyes and had a lot of memorable scenes that I still enjoy today; a good reason why it's #3 is actually because I would watch it virtually with no compunction right now. There's some great humour in it still. However, there were a couple of inane plot twists or details that I wondered about, details that either showed the complete stupidity of some of the characters or the holes created by the screenwriters. Particularly Harry Wormwood's eagerness to "beat the speedboat salesmen to the airport" when they're leaving the country at the film's end (though he might have said that in order to soften a blatant admission that he's being chased by the FBI). I wrote a "redux" post on my criticisms which touched on that, as well as Danny DeVito's almost overbearing presence in and through the film, and the unusual back-and-forth manner of the film's focus and creation. I said it best like this: "You have here an American adaption of a British novel with American characters being antagonized by a crazy British woman."

2. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

The second-best film out of all five. Why? Because it was something I watched virtually over and over as a kid, all the time, and never got tired or used to the characters, their ethos, and the plot. I can't actually think of many other reasons for why I loved the film other than its journey-based plot. The quality of sound on the VHS tape recording my mother made of it helped, that's for sure. There's a certain dynamic and atmosphere to the sound of an old or aging VHS recording of a movie on TV that I'm attracted to. Otherwise, it's an extremely fulfilling film from that time of my life. I can't really think of any criticisms. You can't really criticize a film aimed at children about anthropomorphic animals other than if the plot is so unbelievable even the child's intelligence is insulted, or the voice acting, and the voice acting was great in this film.

1. Paulie

This comes in at number one because of the effect it had on me after I watched it. It touched my heart even as a kid. It was one of those very few films that caused me to feel different about things overall after watching it, because there was such a huge sense of task finished or journey's end or goal met. I even had dreams where I was having the time of my life playing with and being with someone, a female friend, where everything was perfect and home-like, and then that person disappears and I spend the rest of the dream travelling far to return to her. I never get to her in the end. The parakeet, Paulie, travels far and wide, and for a long time in that film. He's virtually with his soulmate at the beginning, a sweet little girl with a stutter, and by the time he's reunited with her, she's a young woman. While it's beautiful and fulfilling that Paulie reunites with her in the end, I didn't like the big change and removal from the original setting and time, which was part of what caused me to feel differently. The big change was, of course, the California summer setting and Marie's change from a girl to a grown woman - if I were Paulie I would have wanted to return to the original times in the beginning, having endless joy that was taken away. I'm not putting down the film's ending - it does it justice to have them reunited - I just didn't like, as a kid, that she'd transformed into a woman by the end and moved from the original setting of New Jersey. In other words, I didn't like grand changes when I was young, I guess. I liked the original time, the original stuff. But the movie's plot direction and travel itinerary, its characters, were amazing and perfect, and I loved all of it. I loved how Paulie goes through several life phases - from those original, joy-filled times with Marie to being Ivy's companion, to being in a "band" of sorts and eventually having a short-term life of crime. The institute part is the only sad, gloomy part, but Tony Shalhoub's character helps drive it home.

I'd include the honourable mentions, but I need to manage my time, and it's getting late (I've been telling myself to do some homework). All of those films have their positives and their flaws, but all in all, they really bring me back. It's almost like watching an old home movie for me, except in better film-quality. And to give a concrete example of what I mean when I say I got a "synesthetic universe exclusive to my childhood," I mean that, particularly in outdoor scenes, based on the direction the camera is looking (on my own perceived orientation), the setting, and whether it's sunny or overcast, I got a synesthetic meshing between that and an unrelated perspective or perception I saw/had in my life at the time. 

There's a silly scene in Ace Ventura where the camera is focused on a shaking bush in the jungle (the antagonist is apparently being raped by a female gorilla). The overcast light falling on the jungle, plus the perceived direction the camera is looking (to me, southeast) and the suggestion of dampness and feeling before rain made my mind connect the scene to how I viewed going to my paternal grandparents at the time. This connection had absolutely nothing to do with the shaking tree or the context of it and everything to do with the light and direction. It's an unrelated, unusual, mostly unexplainable meshing via synesthesia, but that's the connection I made. My paternal grandparents and cousins, and their house. All I can think of that could be a logical reason for the connection was the fact they were well-travelled and this is a jungle scene...that and a memory of running around with my cousins in their backyard on an overcast day.

I'll leave it there. I have work to do.

Red Cloud

Monday, November 17, 2014

Setting Some New Goals

In recent weeks, I've been mulling, in my head, the general ways and things I feel like I want naturally do with my life. That may sound deep and cliched, but I've never had a more clear idea. In 2010, I had no direction or hint of any kind of plan or idea. Now it's quite substantial, clear, and straightforward. So I'm going to make a list and see what I can do.

1. Start my career. (0-0.5 years)
I returned to finish Professional Writing for a reason. It gives me some versatile options in a city like this. The original idea I had coming out of SFY was to do Photography, and then use the diploma I'd have as a result to go into screenwriting - or not, and simply become a photographer, if I liked it enough. In properly thinking it over, I decided that it was neat and all, but I was more likely to find a job with a general writing diploma over a specific focus in writing such as screenwriting. It applied to the "my interests aren't profitable as a career but I'm good at writing and can use that career to fund those interests" epiphany I had in January last year.

2. Move out. (1-3 years)
Typical milestone for anyone, no need to explain that.

3. Music - Recording & Studying (3-10 years)
Once I've got my own place, real work can begin on my home recording studio, which I will most likely build in my basement. I intend on soundproofing, building a central 'control' room (basically where the computer will go, I don't really need a mixing board) and having a place, essentially, for all of my instruments. I intend on buying a proper upright piano as well. But that's only one side of it - piano lessons will continue until I'm at least semi-professional perhaps, and then I can take some minor guitar and bass lessons largely for technique (playing guitar with my fingers appeals to me more than with a pick). I want to become proficient enough to produce my own music on a professional level.

4. Aerial Photography (5-10 years)
Almost at the same time, money-permitting, I intend on saving up for a proper Epson printer - the large professional one that prints using rolls of paper 27 inches across - for the intended home office. The reason for that is so I can produce my own professional-grade prints for any potential exhibitions I can see myself hosting (like all of my panoramas for example). On the other hand, I definitely want to learn how to fly my own small plane, which is possible through the Ottawa Flying Club. Once I eventually master that, I'll find a way to get a camera aimed through the floor of the plane, fixed to an intervalometer, which takes images at an interval rate depending on the plane's speed, height, and angle. I'll do covers of the entire city, as well as images for people for specific purposes (like if they want a picture of their ranch from the air or something). I'll also try to see if I can't try nighttime aerial photography. This is also a purpose for having the proper Epson printer. If my basement is large enough I'll also put together a photography studio.

5. Writing (4-10 years)
At some point within the next ten years I want to have at least published some kind of writing, whether it be a short story collection or a full novel. This is one thing my grandparents seem to put the most expectation on me for. They think I'll eventually win the Giller Prize. Who knows. The point is that I'll find the courage and confidence to put something out there. And maybe someone will like it and publish it.

6. Language (10-20 years)
I am not kidding when I say that I would think learning a second language would be neat, helpful, and in all ways beneficial. This is something for the longer term future, not right away. And I'm not talking about French. Something else European. The idea of being able to interpret between two people speaking different languages appeals to me. Like being a bridge from one person to the other. And there's probably mental benefits as well (from what I've touched on in reading).

Those are extremely ambitious goals. I want to write, play music, fly, learn another language, and do things that no doubt costs thousands of dollars. However, that's the thing about everyone: As soon as you read that, every single problematic issue about the idea comes to mind. Building a studio? Some microphones cost thousands of dollars, if not several hundred for the rest of them. An upright piano? Don't I have a mortgage to pay? Guitar lessons and flying lessons? A printer that costs almost ten thousand dollars? Exhibits? Intervalometers? The mental energy required to learn a language like Spanish or Russian or Polish? Am I crazy?

The point is, none of these goals are impossible. Nothing really is. Why can't I do any of that? Why come up with heaps of reasons not to? The point of life is to have fun, for yourself and for those around you (at least in my opinion). I'm already one of those losers who go on about joining clubs and teams and making friends in high school because he never did it himself, why go on to become an old loser who did virtually nothing in his life but work for no fun or fulfilling reason?

All of those goals are just aspirations, really. I have some unusual focuses - my biggest interest and thrill, my most perfect fit, is being up in the air, flying over everything else, and capturing aerial photos for record. Creating music and writing isn't unusual or socially niche, but it's not front-centre either (compared to perhaps a popular, well-sought-after career in engineering or technology or medicine, or being obsessed with sports). It's not easy to make a career out of any of them, so in the end they can simply be side-hobbies.

The other thing is simply to go with the natural flow of how things work. I'm not going to start my career tomorrow and sign up for flying lessons next week. The normal, easy way to do it is simply to focus on whatever homework I have right now, do it on time, do it well, and methodically get high marks while heeding the advice of my profs. Focusing on that entirely, and fuelling good habits in the process, may lead my efforts to fruition and reward me with my first job by next spring. Maybe. Maybe not. In any sense, I could get a job within next year...and then build up my savings over the next few in order to save up for my own place. A lot of people (girls mostly, I'm sure) get away from home very quickly and end up in a tiny bachelor pad or a gritty apartment with several roommates. Not interested. I'm saving for a real house - not a mansion of course, but a modest thing that may be semi-detached or a townhome, whatever, I'm buying instead of renting - and then I'm moving onwards.

As for music, I've already got piano lessons every week, and I've already got a few instruments. I've also got microphones and interfaces, etc. - the beginnings of a recording studio. All I really need to complete it is the space, the soundproofing, the piano, and a few other mics. That will all come in time, with money I manage responsibly. Same goes for the big Epson printer.

This is all in due time. Nothing comes immediately, and nothing comes without some real proper effort, which I'm willing to put in. Maybe I'll move up in my career - I'm definitely going to try. The language goal is the furthest away in terms of when I might try to learn it. Flying a plane - that'll probably wait until my studio is finished and I'm on the verge of finishing my piano lessons. I can freely achieve these goals within fifteen years or twenty-five. It's not a huge deal - and if unexpected things pop up, they pop up.

There's a good outcome to it all. There really is. At the bare minimum, these are simply a list of side-hobbies for me to enjoy. At the most, I'm a published author with maybe a one- or two-hit wonder in music, someone who has hosted photography exhibits and flies his family on vacation, a known provider of stunning aerial imagery, and even an interpreter (that would be really cool). But that's taking all that I'm interested in very far. All of that is not what I'm extremely aiming for. It would be neat, though. Imagine being able to travel of your own accord in your own plane; imagine putting together an album that gets noticed and becomes popular, to the point you have your own music video airing on television or YouTube. Imagine becoming notable as an author in some kind of good vein.

I think I have some good ideas for my future. Definitely some direction. And like I said, I do not absolutely think I have to achieve all of that and have the added bonus of becoming notable or famous in some way - in effect, those are all just my simple interests and potential hobbies. There's nothing a positive attitude, open mind, good effort, and self-discipline can't do - for anyone. Life can be quite short. The human brain is capable of anything - no one is 'too dumb' to learn piano or incapable of learning another language. As soon as you stop learning, you might as well stop living.

Now I must finish the rest of that homework. It's an integral part of the process.

Red Cloud

Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Unconscious Affectation

Before I begin, I want to make a small amendment to the end of my last post, based on my own thoughts (not based on anything anyone said, no one ever said anything): When I wrote that paragraph on pigeon-holing and categories, and wrote that there shouldn't be 'men and women,' 'black and white,' 'straight or gay' etc., I meant in terms of how we rate each other or define each other in terms of our skills, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. In terms of categories and pigeon-holing, there are many people on the other hand that actually prefer to have and stick to an identity - whether you identify as man or woman or aboriginal or Asian or pansexual or whatever. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that either.


I found out this past week how affected I can end up after I've had certain people invade my dreams. Normally I don't dream about anyone in particular and whatever I do dream about typically comes out as nonsensicle, colourful abstracts and scenes that are mostly forgotten moments after I awake. I have had dreams where people from my life have made appearances, but that is very rare.

Four years ago, while at that SFY thing, I spent a day recording the day's activities with my camcorder out of interest (and in a way, for posterity). At one point, one of the girls started talking to me and asked, while being filmed, if I'd had dreams of my former crushes. I didn't respond (the only thing I say behind camera during the whole thing is 'boy' when a long list of topics are read out by one of the facilitators). The girl went on to describe a dream she'd had.

I never usually have those dreams, but I'd nodded to the girl on camera. It's rare, and they usually follow a linear storyline. And it always ends up affecting my entire day afterwards.

On Tuesday, I woke up from a dream in which I was at some sort of academy of sorts and lounged in a dormitory with other guys. There was a female dorm as well, and in one group was someone I'd had a major crush on in my last year of high school (in real life, the originator of 'the look,' 'In the City,' etc). Throughout the dream, I'd hear of her but never see her. At one point, I asked one of the girls how her group in the dorm was doing, and she had no complaints except for one person. When I politely asked who, she used this girl's last name, to my surprise. It would turn out that, by the time I actually saw her at the end of the dream, in huge contrast to her real-life, end of high school personality, she'd turned vain, arrogant, pompous, condescending, and narcissistic. Looked the same but acted nothing like herself. It was weird.

This morning (not this actual morning, at this exact minute, yesterday morning by now), I decided to extend my off time by half an hour because I was up until 3am Friday morning. It was 8:30. I decided to get up at 9am despite the mere hour to class by then.

I entered a dream where I was sitting in my car right outside the C building main entrance of the college, in the drop-off zone by the pavement in front of the building. I sat there for awhile in the bright morning light - and then I got out and made my way towards Woodroffe Ave., at the edge of the campus. By then, I suddenly realized that I would be ticketed if I left the car sitting there on its own and ran back, only to find a $250 ticket on the windshield already. Grudgingly, I parked it properly in the lot there (additionally paying for that too) and made my way back, until I got to Baseline Station, walked onto a 95 bus, and met...her.

It wasn't the same girl from the Tuesday dream, but her counterpart, the only person so far in my life to trump my attraction to 'the look.' The one that contributed to emotionally draining summers at work and made my breaks at the stupid Mc. in Wal-Mart hazy and good or bad. The B major/minor/note girl. I walked up to her and asked if she wanted to stay there or come out, and she immediately chose to get off the bus with me. Our meeting seemed to be independent of whether we were on a mobile articulated bus or stationary at the college. We walked back to the college.

She wore a summery, flower-covered dress, and seemed very happy. We walked to the B building and entered a door where she examined some program schedules that apparently applied to her, situated on the wall. At one point she gave me a big, happy smile. Interspersed with this interaction were scenes in a restaurant-type place, where it was just her and I, and it was like a memory, as if I were being transported back to it in the dream. She wore a black dress, seemed ebullient, and wanted to be there. My feelings conversely were of extreme need of her to be nearby. I was aware that I desperately wanted her in all senses (though largely emotionally). It was like an extremely grand memory contained within the dream.

It didn't last long. It seemed to bounce between these two scenes, and then I floated back to consciousness and eventually got up. I was late to class by seven minutes as a result. As I parked in the lot in front of the C building this sunny morning, I had to drive around once to allow someone to get out (allowing me a spot) and when I printed out my ticket, a meter person was already inspecting the windshield of my car before noticing me and connecting me to the car. He asked if it was mine, thanked me, and went on his way. Like in the dream, those meter people at Algonquin are swift and quick; I didn't even have time to trot over to the machine, go through the prompts, print the ticket, and return to slip it on the dashboard before someone looked it over. I didn't get ticketed though; the guy saw me with the slip in hand.

These were simply dreams, but to my head-shaking amusement and slight disinterest, my entire day was affected both times. There's a time when you like someone, and he or she pops up in virtually every thought you have, your mind somehow connecting them to it all the time. With me it's thoughts, synesthesia, and (extremely) sounds thanks to the synesthesia. I've reached a point where neither girl randomly appears in my head at virtually every sound or music or noise or thought I have. They've drifted into the past enough so that they're merely fond memories and virtual templates for what I'm attracted to. I don't think about them all the time, or even most of the time, and if I do, it's thanks to music, and to correspondence (largely in the original's case) with all the other lookalike faces.

On Tuesday, the girl from high school unexpectedly, unwittingly ruled my thoughts, feelings and happiness. I didn't expect or need that. Today, the same happened for the B girl. I found it kind of funny, and indulged myself a little by intentionally listening to B-focused songs: 'Not Home Today,' 'Rasputin,' 'Walk Like an Egyptian,' 'Steal My Sunshine,' etc. I laughed almost manically at key B-sounding parts in the music that were obvious to me due to the renewed synesthetic meshing. Memories flooded my mind, perspectives of them, and wonderings. I had a fresh sense of what I miss and have no access or connection to, a renewed knowledge that I have deep feelings for someone who never asked for them, never wanted more than she did, and doesn't even live here.

Thanks to that twenty-minute dream, and the one on Tuesday, both days turned into unfortunately needless observance of what I don't have and the remembrance of what I did, the fact that I couldn't keep it going. The beauty and wonder and amazement I had when it started. Many elements of the dream I had today are obvious references to real-life places and memories. Baseline Station served as the place the B-girl walked up to me, said hello, and started fast-talking, hoping I'd place her as someone from school and respond warmly, in an attempt to start an acquaintanceship at least. It was such an unexpected surprise for me - a pretty girl walking up to me out of nowhere and talking to me - that I can't help but smile every time I hear that quiet, interested voice greet me out of nowhere to my extreme right in my mind. We had our first conversation on a 95 bus. The restaurant memory is the most blatantly obvious reference, I don't need to explain it.

Therefore, it sounds rude, emotionless, and callous, but I don't think I want to have dreams like that. My day was spent thinking about someone from my past. Not my future or my present. I had regressed back to the time wherein my feelings would ensure everything I heard and thought about brought her (or the other one) to mind. I can't go backwards. It's sweet to remember, and very nostalgic - but otherwise, it's just my mind lamenting on a focus that is unrequited. It's no issue towards either person - both are virtually perfect to me - but for their sake and mine it's probably a very good thing I don't have dreams like this very often.

It's an unconscious affectation. Which may sound like a brutal insult to my memories of them and those two girls altogether, but come on. I might as well be obsessed otherwise, and that's unhealthy. I've moved on, but as long as dreams like that put me in a chokehold and leave me smarting with obsessive thoughts all day, I'm not actually moving on very far from where I was. Or I'm moving on and constantly looking backwards at what I'm moving on from, which will only cause me to not see where I'm going and trip over myself. Figuratively and probably literally.

Sweet dreams, but unhealthy for my emotions. Sigh. I think I'll listen to 'Year of the Cat' by Al Stewart. That B...or maybe I'll watch that music video for 'I Want You Back' by Sherry Kean, haven't seen that in awhile...

Red Cloud

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Categorized & Pigeon-Holed

Generalizing, in my opinion, is the same as being lazy, intentionally dumb, and creating a stereotype.

People seem to love doing that. I think it's something most people who think they're smarter than everyone else likes to do. Just like people who love to hear themselves talk tend to be ignorant and stupid more often than not.

It's kind of scathing of me to start off something like that, but it was something I read yesterday. Normally not much gives me a reaction unless it is specific with me personally. Or if it's someone who thinks they're smarter than everyone else and comes off as condescending and pretentious. That's my biggest pet peeve. I used to know someone like that in high school (though then again, a lot of teens are like that to begin with).

It was an opinion piece that I had to read for one of my classes (we were going to use that as well as a couple others as an example in how go about editing someone's opinion for publishing). It was recent and had to do with the whole Ghomeshi media circus. The article was basically about how the "pain he inflicted" (because that is definitely factual and proven truth) was part of a larger issue in relation to misogyny against women.

I didn't have any issue with that. I don't have a voice on it because I don't think I know enough to comment, other than to think that it probably matters. The ridiculous thing that actually angered me was the author's line that few men do not have anti-feministic rage somewhere in their psyche.

In other words, few men (altogether) do not somehow, some way or another, have a rage against the opposite sex simply for being the opposite sex.

His article had some psychological observations from a real source. Men, particularly men from single-parent families where the father was absent and the environment was not perfectly normal or okay, grew up developing frustration towards their mothers until it eventually evolved towards women altogether. The anti-feministic, paternal rage develops until it is obvious in some form or another within the man's psyche.

Considering that the author said 'few' men, I got the impression that he basically meant 'virtually none.'

It didn't stop there. Anyone who thought different was in hopeless denial.

It's a simple generalization. To bring it home, the author went and used himself as an example, saying that even he has unfortunately expressed this rage against his wife. "I'm no better," basically. I appreciate it when those who preach put themselves at the same level as those to which they preach, removing any self-elevation or perfection, but in this case he's regretfully making himself a part of his generalization, causing the reader to feel like it's no doubt true because even the author admits it. Therefore every man must be like this.

I'm not fully disagreeing with or discrediting the author. There is absolutely no doubt that many men have this 'rage,' and that it is a problem. But it is not an inevitable thing that happens to every male regardless of anything.

I took it pretty personally. I grew up in a single mother household. My father was absent when I was born. He went to Cambodia after deciding he wasn't ready to be a dad, came back briefly, and then went to Africa. I never really spent any time with him until I was five or six, and I didn't really see him as my dad until I was seven. He didn't fully seem to act like one (by which I mean annoying lectures on my health habits) until I was a pre-teen. When I was a child he seemed more like a really cool friend, with his roommates/friends other really cool friends. Yet I think that to base something or find issue with someone based merely on their gender to be the stupidest idea ever.

I don't understand why people take issue with it. Men and women share 99% of the same genes. They are human. The only differences are certain biological ones and certain differences in the way both think. Differences, not weaknesses or strengths. Otherwise, everything is changeable. Women don't have to have long hair and men don't have to have it short, and both are free to dress however they like (although most of the world probably thinks differently of that). There's nothing (or should be nothing) stopping that. They say women have weaker arms? That makes no sense at all. They are perfectly capable of weight training if their arms are weaker to begin with, and weaker compared to what? None of that nonsense is set in stone or absolute.

Gender inequality or issue of any kind is as stupid and nonsensical as racial inequality or discrimination, or sexual orientation issues. We evolved this way, yet we pigeon-hole ourselves into categories and set expectations on one and create allowances for the other. We create differences that might as well move in the opposite direction of our evolution, humanity, and abilities. If I had an issue with a woman, it's because she specifically created that issue, not because "she's a woman and therefore she did it naturally." The majority of us don't seem to understand what 'natural' is I don't think - and I'm not saying everyone. There are no doubt many out there who do.

We need to recognize that humans are simply humans - not men and women and white and black and straight and gay and this and that. We have one life. Might as well do whatever you want to make it fun and interesting. Who should care if you're a man or a woman, if you're black or aboriginal or otherwise, or if you're attracted to guys or both guys and girls. The world shouldn't have any issue with you. You're a natural human being with strengths and flaws and compassion and everything else specific to you, and only you. Everyone has their own differences, so to generalize that into an entire pointless category is just being dumb with effort. I'm a man. I don't have any pointless anti-feministic rage against any female. Am I amazingly unique to my gender? I don't think so.

By the way, until police actually find out in an investigation what evidence points to whatever truth and solves everything together, I'm not interested in listening to or watching a scandal wail about how misogynistic and horrible and repudiating that Ghomeshi character is. Let authorities have the final word, not anger-driving, negative media. If those claims are true, I commend those women who had the strength to use their voices - which they have and deserve to use. If they aren't - some people sure are disgusting. I know what it's like to have my reputation tarnished.

Red Cloud

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Definite Absence

I don't know how those people can do it. You know those kinds of relationships where a couple breaks up, but remain on close, friendly terms? Those kinds of people have a courage and place in life I haven't gotten anywhere close to reaching or having.

It's a quirk with me. If something unfortunate happens between me and someone, a friend normally, and it doesn't even have to be absolutely horrible, I turn off. I don't say anything. I just act independent and leave it.

When I "broke up" with that "girlfriend" out west, the best thing for me was to avoid any kind of online presence. Have no access to photos or news or any sort of thing whatsoever. I couldn't remain her friend. Not at all. Not when I couldn't have what my feelings wanted. Which sounds very selfish and self-interested, indeed. I have to go one way or the other. In that case, it was the other.

None of that has or had anything to do with anger or entitlement or expectations. People are free to make their own decisions for themselves. Only they control what they want. It all has to do with not being able to deal with the fact that my feelings would be quite hurt if or when I no doubt saw images of that old friend or whatever enjoying themselves with someone that's taken my place. What I'm saying sounds very predictable and no doubt shared by virtually every other human being, but I'm just providing a reason that isn't anger or entitlement or expectation.

I guess it's my way of moving on. For example, I could care very little about how that "ex-girlfriend" is doing or who she may be with. Deep down, I care for her welfare, but that's it, and she does not occupy my mind very often. This has been achieved by my simple ignorance of anything to do with her. A few months ago, I saw her icon and it looked like she was kissing some other girl on the cheek. Two years ago that would have shocked and hurt me. A few months ago, however, it only made me chuckle. Alright then, good for you. I still wouldn't want a constant presence, but I can deal with little things like that.

Last year, I deleted a couple of other girls that I'd enjoyed a brief friendship with on Facebook. The McDonalds affair that was so amazing. Very suddenly, out of nowhere. I had to avoid them online because otherwise I was focusing on something I had very little, if anything, to do with. I wanted a more personal friendship. I had ridiculous, separate crushes on them. All that did was make them guarded and uncomfortable. They seemed very let-down when I deleted them. But I wasn't going anywhere, and I was merely creating awkward situations. Best to get as far away as possible. It was never their problem and I never meant them any ill. I have no issues with them. But disappearing like that is the best thing I can do for myself.

Someday, I hope I'll have the courage to overcome this quirk and be able to deal with a break-up or distancing of a friendship without having to entirely 'disappear' in all forms. I realize this is probably a childish thing I do. Last autumn, certain aspects of my personality and a couple of social mistakes led to the ruin of a very new best friend I had (which was female for once). This time I was the recipient of furious e-mails. I didn't say a thing in response. In my mind, I wasn't giving her anything to kill me with through something I said. Then again, I could have spoke up right away and summoned the courage to objectively try to make things right. The rest of that semester was spent with me avoiding her eyes and acting as if she weren't there. We only had one friendly conversation (which should have been a new start). As I got up to leave the final class of the semester (and my final class with that group), I glanced at her and saw a look of what looked like spite mixed with anger mixed with resentment. I had not tried. I had faded away and had now guaranteed that it would stay that way as I left.

I'm sorry. I'm just not quite there yet. It may come off as unfair to some that I will react by disappearing. In some instances, like the long-distance relationship, it was a must - and I think it still is thanks to the likelihood that both of us are prospering in our disconnection to each other - but in others, it was selfish and perhaps cowardly as well, and it's something I have to work on heading into the future. I'm not very good at confrontation and dislike it. I have a hell of a time making a logical argument verbally, in the moment. In the end I'm pretty good at sounding like a tongue-tied idiot. If I can get better at it, perhaps I won't have to enable this quirk.

I guess it's just like my friend Imad has said: "Sometimes people don't know what to do in certain situations." But it's not like they - or I - will never know.

Red Cloud

Friday, November 7, 2014

Deep and Endearing

Last night, after hearing it a couple of times at work, I managed to track down new song I liked. By new of course I mean it's old - came out in 1987 - and I can add yet another British act to that list of mine.

It's yet another song I heard at Wal-Mart - really, don't get me wrong, about 90% of the songs they play are boring or bland or the kind that were really good briefly in their time but only in their time and in a standard kind of way, not very outwardly or differently, just standardly good. The pages interrupting the music never help, and although they never seem to run them in the autumn, winter or spring, the McDonalds advertisements just make it worse.

It's a nice song in a sort of feel-good, feel-like-oneself kind of way. A kind of 'coming home' kind of song to me. It's this:

What originally got me was the descending guitar notes played over the rest of the music, as that's what I heard first and what gave me that 'coming home' feeling. Of course, hearing it properly, it's much more full, deep, and appealing to my ear.

When I looked it up on Wikipedia, I unintentionally found a lot more information on it than I thought in terms of musical structure. I say unintentionally because I like figuring it out myself and then seeing that I'm right or close. It's in A major - the key and chord I relate to the most - and its procession follows simply as A, E, Bmin, and D. All major chords but for the B minor. So a I-V-ii-IV procession. In other words, and this is obvious in the sound of the music as well, the exact same musical progression as the chorus of 'Our House' (though 'Our House' is in D minor and follows the opposite in terms of major/minor chords). The entire song follows on this same progression from beginning to end except for a bit that's (as Wikipedia so helpfully revealed for me) F#min and Gmin.

Apparently, though I haven't looked up the lyrics yet, the song is about the singer's memories of vacationing at a certain notable spot in England with his girlfriend called Beachy Head - which is a huge cliff spot overlooking the sea. It's in general a song about that memory, and good, nostalgic times with someone he loves (the girlfriend became his wife).

I like the song for its progression, the key it's in thanks to that, and the way it plays out. The snare drum has that nice distant reverb that makes it sound intense and like it's trying hard - a good effect to me. The intro is great as it starts with a drum roll, and then the bass, though it starts midway through the first note in the progression rather than at the start (not a bad idea). A beautiful, low-playing guitar joins in to compliment the notes, not playing chords but emulating the bass. It sounds beautiful when it plays B and especially D thanks to the sound effect it's probably using. Then, something I didn't expect, an acoustic guitar starts strumming. That's an instrument that I think doesn't get enough exposure or parts in songs anymore, and its presence here is definitely welcome. The strings-like keyboard starts its predominant notes, and finally the main electric guitar does its descending-order progression. The singer doesn't start until several repeats of this intro, giving the song time to build up nicely.

The music video very nicely augments this with the camera moving from one instrument to another as each band member starts playing them, using a limited depth of field to limit one's attention and focus to only that instrument/person.

In terms of my synesthetic response (and therefore perception of the music) it's largely deep tones for me, mixtures of black with dark green and other similar colours. The only sounds that give me bright reactions are the keyboard synth and the lead guitar, and that's largely a white mix. It does sound romantic, but in a dark, deep, calm kind of way, like it's from my perception or my way of it - the way I would go about in a relationship. It's in A major - that's "my" key and chord. Darker (in a quieter, deeper, lower colour tone kind of way), deep, endearing, calm, to ourselves (my partner and I). And it has some good chords in it - the nice depth and quietness of A major, the sky-high happiness of E major, the forlorn but endearing B minor, and of course the extremely likable, happy, friendly, sunny D major. It sounds very nice in the beginning. It's like, from my point of view, I'm surrounded by a group of people I know that I am close to, friends that I know easily match up with those chords. If I could think of a happy memory with a girl, it would probably be last autumn, but I'm inclined to remember that summer day at McDonalds with those other two. One is definitely a D major while the other always seems to come to mind when I hear a B chord. And that one memory is more nostalgic and sunny than the time with the other one last Fall. The song really sounds nostalgic that way.

I've never heard anything by the Cure before, but this is a good introduction. And it's a simple song that manages to sound refreshing to me. That intro, the guitar joining the bass and playing those notes, the acoustic, the main guitar sound, it's all quite good - in a non-standard, different, great way that speaks to me well thanks to the key it's in.

Music: A-
Lyrics: (I looked them up) - B+

Red Cloud

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Some Statistics

I never do this, but I thought, why not. Let's reveal the viewing statistics for this blog from December 31st, 2013, to October 31st, 2014. I say December 31st because that's when I enabled Analytics to track viewership of this blog. I usually look at location-based statistics over everything else, because I prefer to know where my viewers came from rather than what operating system they use or browser or screen resolution. Those stats I find kind of boring - after all, for network, virtually anything past the 100th meridian uses Shaw. Whatever.

Top ten views location-wise - Canada:

Ottawa: 322 (Not surprising)
Toronto: 116
Calgary: 60 (Geez)
Winnipeg: 57
Vancouver: 40
Montreal: 28
Edmonton: 14
Mississauga: 13
Hamilton: 9
Guelph: 8

After this follows a list of one hundred more cities/towns all over the country, from Halifax to Grand Prairie, Flin Flon to Newmarket, Duncan to Quebec City, and Selkirk to London. It's interesting how this page can get so many diverse views...excusing all of the silly searches for the 100th meridian.

What's extremely more staggering is when I go to international views. An astonishing 71 countries pop up.

Top Ten Views Internationally:

Canada: 862
United States: 456
United Kingdom: 105
Brazil: 30
Australia: 28
Germany: 21
Singapore: 20
Italy: 19
France: 17
Ireland: 15

The other sixty-one have quite a range; North America is entirely covered, but also quite a bit of South America, Central America, and Europe. To my surprise, almost every country in the former Yugoslavia from Bosnia & Herzegovina to Macedonia have stopped by, and virtually every country in central Europe has visited a few times. Russia has four views while Ukraine has three. This includes countries in the Middle East such as Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It goes as far east as Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. Even a country or two in Africa has clicked on 'The Red Cloud' or 'The Ottawan.' It's quite astonishing.

In the entire year, only 21.8% of visitors have returned, while 78.2% have been here once. At least I hold some of my audience, and it's probably the audience I have here locally.

Overall views: 1,762.

That's pretty neat for one year. After all, this isn't a big, recognized, nationally popular or viewed blog (well, in one instance it is, but only on a one-time-visit basis). It's just a place for me to write my perception on things from music to everyday observations, maybe a story. It's just me. And I'm glad I've been doing this for six years now. That's a good history right there.

Red Cloud

Thursday, October 23, 2014

That's Us in the Spotlight, Losing our Religion

That might be a bit of a corny title, but we really are in the spotlight, quite literally.

In my short lifespan, North America has never seen to me to be the place of chaos, war, assault, attack, or otherwise brutal forces. There have only been one or two events that were huge enough to count - the 9/11 attacks, the Federal building explosion in Oklahoma City in 1995, and a few other much smaller things. Those have all been in the States, not Canada.

Neither world war took place over here. The Cold War resulted in no bombings. All the hell and casualty and human sacrifice has taken place in Europe's backyard, not ours. So it's quite unusual and shocking to have something actually happen here, in this country, in this city.

Last year, it was the Boston Marathon bombing that took up all the news, and later the bus/train collision. That was the most local event of all - it happened right on the edge of Barrhaven, where I live. But that wasn't a world stage-worthy event. For the first time ever, a real terrorist attack occurred here. The sniper didn't get far thankfully - but he did infiltrate the centre block of the Parliament Buildings and he did kill a guard at the War Memorial. That's a huge issue.

It's been unusual to see all of this unfold. Last year I was watching the news about Boston being locked down entirely. Now it's actually downtown, here, that has the same circumstance.

We really got some action, didn't we?

It was a sleepy morning. I had to get up early, at 7am. I drove to the college, dropping my mother off on Woodroffe along the way. I spent the whole class trying to keep myself awake and alert. The entire time was spent listening to student presentations and a class discussion. When we were notified that we could leave, people immediately started referencing the issue about downtown, having silently seen it pop up on their laptops via social media. I hadn't noticed anything other than the unusual 27 tweets on Twitter that had suddenly wanted to pop up. I was too sleepy and tired. I went home while listening to some of the news on the radio, and napped for two hours. Barrhaven is the opposite  direction of downtown. I had nothing to worry about other than my mother across the river.

By the evening, the PM was addressing the country, and CNN was even downtown, interviewing everyone. Thankfully my mother was able to get home early and safely. Everything everywhere was locked down. Except Wal-Mart. I still had to go there and work.

This is one hell of an affair, horrible and brutal and everything in between, but what's clear to me is that this isn't the end. Someone tried to run down military personnel in Quebec a few days ago. Today a man with a gun shot a guard in the morning daylight and then went and shot up the Hall of Honor in the centre block of the Parliament buildings. Both Canadian and American media (not to forget social media) is buzzing with all of this, right at this moment, and it's ten to 1 in the morning. Countries worldwide are stepping up their national security. This is perhaps only the beginning; someone else will no doubt appear somewhere else, sometime soon, with a gun or a bomb under his clothes or a firearm of some sort. This could be a whole new war on terrorism - but the scary thing is that this isn't south of the border in the States anymore, it's in our own backyard, quite literally, right at home. Who knows how safe it will be in the future to hang out downtown.

My respects and condolences go out to the fallen soldier's family. Let's hope, really hope, that this will be the only action Ottawa (or anywhere in Canada) sees. We're not immune to acts of violence like this, no, but we sure aren't used to or acclimated to something like this. No way. This may well be the beginning to a grim reality where violence isn't far from home. Let's hope it doesn't go that way.

Red Cloud

Monday, October 20, 2014


Over the last couple of weeks, I've mulled over an idea that is both perhaps good in some ways as well as bad in others. In one, I could connect with people, and in the other, I could be harming my self-image (from my point of view) and principles.

I ended up not doing it, for a few reasons. The "it" is online dating.

Up to now, I always regarded that kind of idea as reserved for those who were desperate or, for any variety of negative or stereotypical reasons, hard of starting relationships with those they prefer to start them with (man or woman, or both). In my mind, I wasn't forty yet, I wasn't that pathetic, I wasn't that desperate and I wasn't that incapable, yet.

Now those are very negative, offensive reasons. I completely admit that. Perhaps there are people out there who do feel that way and do resign themselves to doing something like that, and I feel sorry for their lack of self-esteem. I've come to realize that there are people my age - not over thirty - who actually do participate in some kind of online match-up app or website, largely just for fun. That's why I mulled it over in my head and considered it.

Maybe I could connect with people. Maybe it would help me get 'out there' and maybe I could garner some good experience as a result. I'm not very good at starting relationships (of any kind) with people. While I have approached girls and talked to them, those have always been girls who have 'the look.' I have a pattern with that. They look attractive to the point that I have to do something, and even then it takes me a little while to start. Of course I find other girls who do not match this type I have attractive - I am not so narrow in my interests that you have to have green eyes, a round face, and dark hair for me to approach you - but it might as well be that way because I am too shy to actually start talking. Those that don't match my type are attractive - but my shyness and introversion outweighs my motivation to (eventually) walk up and say hi, my name is, etc. etc.

That was the potential positive aspect to trying the online version of relationships. But I'm not doing it.

My opinion about the idea now is that, yes, there are people, my age, who do it just for the fun of it, it's an option and maybe they'll get something good out of it, but I'm not jumping into that until I've ultimately failed, in every possible way, to actually talk to a girl who looks attractive - and isn't merely 'my type.' It's for those looking for fun - as well as those who simply can't just walk up to a girl or boy they find attractive and introduce themselves, talk, find common ground, and develop a relationship that way.

Online dating hasn't been around for a long time in consideration of our time here. People got together before it came along, we coped, and there's no reason for me or anyone else to be not able to do the same. Online dating is a cheat in a mildly difficult game. I'm not ready to give up and cheat yet. I'm not that cowardly and if I can approach a girl that has 'the look,' I can most definitely approach a girl who doesn't but is just attractive enough as she is.

Red Cloud

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Impulsiveness of Digital

When you compare something old-fashioned to something new and modern, an entire mentality goes with each. And normally, the new and modern tends to be faster or easier than the old fashioned.

When you take pen and paper and write, you're going to have a different process than if you were to type - I've said this before. It's a different mind process as well as a different physical one. Typing (if you know how to) is easily faster, and deleting prose on a screen is likewise.

What I intend to focus on is film photography versus digital.

Film photography still exists. I think it's become more niche, but not nearly as niche as some of the original ways and methods still used today by extreme minorities. For instance, there are archaic methods - like glass plate tinting - to develop film that was practiced in the 1850s that some small hobby groups still use today. Polaroid cameras probably still enjoy a popularity among some people.

You can't take someone who has grown up almost entirely with digital cameras, give them a point and shoot film camera, and expect them to get great, clear, composed shots. Not when they are singularly used to smartphone cameras and tiny digital point and shoots. I know this thanks to an experience with my grandfather's film SLR. He had it out at one family dinner, and anyone could freely pick it up and take photos with it. Anyone from uncles to cousins. When I saw the developed results weeks later, 98% of the images in the pamphlet had turned out blurry or useless.

I remember my cousin playing with it, snapping shots of me one after the other, quickly. I kind of felt unsure about that as the shutter snapped. The camera didn't use a 64-gig memory card. It used a twenty-four image film roll.

There are obvious reasons why digital photography has ruined the style and mentality of film photography (for young amateurs in the digital age, anyway):

- Space. You can put a tiny 15 gigabyte MiniSD inside a cell phone and take hundreds of photos. Therefore you have virtually free reign to how you take your photos; you don't have to worry about using up all your space with bad images because you have so much of it, and you can delete the crappy photos.

-Instant images. You can immediately view what you've taken, eliminating the need for patience as well as the concern for quality. For film, you have to wait for it to be developed, which is going to cause you to take more care of what you're snapping, because who wants to wait an hour or more only to receive a blurry, careless image?

-Advanced camera functions. By this point, digital technology has advanced in such a helpful way for us. You can set a camera to evaluate every point of basis for capturing an image, from appropriate shutter speed to ISO, and you can set it to avoid issues such as motion-blur or low light with in-camera settings or automatic detection. Furthermore, if you're good on the computer, you can use Adobe Photoshop to fix an image's exposure, white balance, dirtiness, etc. etc. You can't really scan a film print into the computer and fix its exposure - you're not able to gain anymore information from the clipped pixels that the scanner didn't already expose/create. Try brightening a dark image with mostly blacks from a 4x6 film print. All you'll do is turn it a murky grey without revealing anything.

Digital cameras are set up to do the majority of the hard work for you, they have the space for thousands of images that can be deleted, and you can see the image first-hand right away. That creates an information-hungry mentality that's impatient, impulsive, and invulnerable considering you can retake an image and have the result right away. So when my younger cousins pick up the film SLR and carelessly snap a picture at a subject impulsively, they aren't taking into account the exposure, ISO, f/stop, or whether the flash is on or off, and they get a motion-blurry image of a careless subject they could have deleted on a digital camera in an instant after seeing the result - in an instant. And they run out of film fast.

The only images that turned out in the package were ones that happened to be taken by me; I looked through the viewfinder and saw an extreme clarity when the lens focused, more than what I was used to with my digital SLR. It was beautiful. I took my shots with care, and they turned out very nice. Film photography is often undervalued - it has great density and depth to it, and often an interesting colour cast. And it has a detail that reveals an essence to the clarity and look of the image that you just don't see in a shiny, processed digital image. I see some character.

This impulsive, instantaneous way of information-sharing doesn't just apply to photography but to virtually any modern thing. I think it's why people can't focus on anything at once for very long anymore - they need more, they can't wait, hurry, rush, we need information, we need the webpage to load, the video to buffer, the feed to update, the image to appear on our screens. Where's the good old anticipation and excitement?

Red Cloud

Monday, October 13, 2014

Canadian Family Experience, The

Or, rather, the experience of my father's family.

This Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to get off work early and visit with my paternal relatives at my uncle's for dinner Sunday, and a regathering today of sorts. To my interest, three strangers happened to be dining with what cousins I had there. They turned out to be all part of my cousin Tom's entourage - two Americans and an Englishman.

It makes me wonder what would happen if I brought friends from college to a family affair with my paternal relatives. It's an experience, all right.

I'm not putting it down of course, don't get me wrong. I'm just analyzing it. Three friends from university in Montreal decide and agree to spend their Thanksgiving in Ottawa with their mutual friend Tom. What does that entail? Going to his uncle's, where almost half of his cousins, uncles, aunt, and grandparents will be. Not very unusual. But we're coming into onscreen stereotypically warm family territory here. You have adults, young adults, and a girl running around. Everyone is welcoming and warm - to the point none of the friends are grouped together but explaining their back-histories to grandparents and uncles and the wives of uncles in various parts of the house. Not entirely overwhelming by this point I'm sure.

The next day, after time with the host, they end up - back at his grandparent's, where three cousins are hanging out (myself and two others). Everyone's together again, playing badminton and sitting at the table - but that's not the end of the introductions, because an uncle has gotten the host's sister on Skype on a tablet and passing it around to each person individually, including each visitor. Then an aunt wants a picture of everyone - all the cousins and the foreigners - grouped together happily, as if they were cousins too.

I would guess that this is a traditional Canadian welcome. I've heard that the Maritimes are just as, if not more so, openly hospitable to anyone. They put on a big spread. But I just thought it was the Maritimes. Not Ottawa folk as much.

It goes to show, I guess, what coming to Canada is like, if you're visiting your Canadian friend's family. One was from London, England. Another was from Wisconsin and ironically looked like Hyde from That 70's Show. The third was from northern California. Very diverse. They come here and even though they're only friends of my cousin's in university, they might as well be family despite only being here for the weekend.

The world stage pegs us as nice people. I guess this proves it. I unwittingly proved the stereotype that we say "eh" to one of the Americans. However, if I were in that position, I can't help not feeling I'd be a little overwhelmed at the instant welcome and absorption into the extended family like that. So many relatives, in person (and even on Skype) all at once, and getting pictures and embracing you like a nephew or a son. It's nice, no doubt, I would just think that some people might feel a little 'taken-in' by the instantaneous outpouring of love.

I'm not putting it down. It's just an idea and feeling I get in observing an experience like that. If it were reversed and I were friends with the girl from California and visiting, and every relative from her father's family came at me all at once, loving and all, I might feel a bit overwhelmed. At least they all took it in stride and reciprocated immediately. It was a nice experience. And a nice picture. I'm standing with a guy who sits next to Suggs from Madness at English Chelsea games. Pretty neat.

Red Cloud

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wild Horses

As per is the custom for me these days, I heard a song I liked on the radio while driving home from the college today. I've never counted how many songs Boom 99.7 has given me to listen to. I really should. That list I put out in June is hopelessly out of date now. I should really update it.

The song had a yearning, forlorn-sounding fretless bass part that I liked, and the drums were a constant brush-stricken rhythm. While I at first decided it was an alright song that was good but not enough for me to want to look it up, the tune stuck with me until I finally looked it up a few minutes ago.

It took me a few tries to get something close to resembling the actual lyrics when I Googled them, giving me songs ranging from Taylor Swift to Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones, but when I saw the name 'Gino Vanelli,' I almost knew for certain that that would be the song - after all, Boom is virtually loyal to broadcasting Canadian content, and I of course turned out to be right. Who else would it be?

The sound of the song definitely made sense to me because I saw a good similarity to his other song 'Just a Motion Away,' which has a similar yearning to it. That song makes me think of good memories, or seeing memories of a certain time in a nostalgic light. The three distinct piano notes - A-B-C - as well as the general procession of the chorus really communicate that feeling to me. The only other song I know of his - and don't like very much - is 'Black Cars.' I like the lyrics. I just think its keyboards and riffs sound silly and way too over-the-top. It sounds awesome during the summer when I've just gotten inside my own black car after having it parked in the sun for hours. But that's just the lyrics.

I think this current song will go on to be something I habitually listen to for awhile. I like the music video quite a bit, for its monochrome, scenes, and lady. The musicians sometimes switch around - I was surprised by an obese guy on the drums a few times, out of nowhere - but the lighting and place just looks nice to me. It seems forlorn like the song, and the direction of light (in my orienting the direction of the camera and placement of people) matches the afternoon light I synesthetically view the music in.

There's one other large aspect, and it's Gino Vanelli himself. You'll have to excuse me for this, but for some reason, if I felt that I looked like anyone, it was him. Had my hair been a bit more curly, my glasses off my face, and my jawline clear of any beard (and moustache) I could pass off as this guy.

I normally never think anyone could look much like me. I've never seen any example. The only people who have ever claimed I look like anyone else they knew was my "ex" from Calgary (who I heartily disagreed with as the person she showed me had a ridiculous moon face, no beard, and had virtually no similarities in eyes or hair) and that girl I had that short-lived friendship with last year, who had "The Look." That was an unusual experience because while I was busy comparing her to all the other lookalikes, I was already a lookalike of - or that other person - to her.

Gino Vanelli is the closest to come to looking like me from my eyes. Largely thanks to how his eyes look. And as a result, I kind of like watching the video because I get the false, superficial feeling that I'm watching someone like myself.

I'll stop going on about that for now. It's a very selfish, egotistical reason to like a song or music video - "hey, he looks like me!" - and doesn't provide very cordial reading material. I like the song. Gino Vanelli has a nice voice, and an obviously kind temperament in how he performs. He comes from Montreal.

It's a nice song. I hope I can do that sometime in my future. Would be neat to look cool in a video performing a song. I cannot sing though.

[Update]: In watching it again, the girl who plays harmonica also has a passing resemblance to that 'look' I find attractive with the eyes. Add in what sounds like a very quiet background keyboard melody towards the end, and the way I see myself in terms of face when I look at Vanelli, and from my perspective it's a perfect diorama of me with my 'type' including the beautiful, loving synesthetic reaction I get from that background keyboard in the end. Wow. Gee.

Red Cloud

Sunday, October 5, 2014

That Musical Moment

I get these moments now and then in music when I see something so clear or perfectly aligned with something else that it makes me excited and happy.

It happened earlier this year with that 'Roam' song by The B-52's. That bit of song was quite a cause for excitement that teetered on euphoria because of the type of face that came to mind, and someone I used to know. I don't listen to that as much as I used to - it's passing its course, and that part of the song will make me smile happily at most.

It seems to be almost the best when it makes me see myself. Tonight was one of those moments, with the song 'Walking on the Moon' by The Police.

I've known the song for about five years now - the earliest I can remember hearing it for the first time was in my bedroom around probably 2004, back in the old neighbourhood. I think I found it boring and lazy at the time because I was only paying attention to the music. I'd been trying to find old 80s songs I might like on Bob FM on a small boombox radio in my room, and that song had been one of the few that had popped up. That had been my real introduction to The Police, and Sting's high-pitched vocals, but I wasn't listening to them, just waiting for the lazy-sounding song to end. I was thirteen. I was inexperienced and dumb with my ears back then.

I say 'five years' because I never really heard or paid attention to it (though I'd meanwhile discover other Police songs ironically through the morning announcements in high school) until I saw The Police interviewed on a show hosted by Elvis Costello in summer 2009. I completely forget the title of the program or what it really was about, but Sting, Andy Summers, and Stuart Copeland were all interviewed separately, and then they played together (with Costello) that exact song - 'Walking on the Moon.' I fell in love with it right then. I really liked the dreamy 'walking back from your house' lyric.

I wonder if I ever really reviewed it on here before, but I'm not really doing that now. I was looking at a guitar tutorial on the song on YouTube, and I found the chorus chords quite interesting and inviting. The guy explained that the chords were A sharp major - not surprised, the bass plays that note - D minor 7 (surprised, as the bass plays an F, but it makes musical sense), C major (not surprising) and G minor (perfect). He played them very brightly (his amp or foot board presets notwithstanding), not really strumming the lower strings.

It made perfect alignment to my perceived self at that moment.

I've had a bit of a disappointing day. I did something very unusual for someone like me and asked a girl out, who explained in a positive manner that she had homework; when I went on the break the 'date' of sorts was to happen, she was reading a paper instead of doing what would have made it not work. As a result I've been feeling a bit bitter - not at the girl in particular but at my slow pace and everything else. So the chords played on their own like that - as well as in the song - really meshed perfectly in that manner.

A# major and D7 minor are, in that context, quite light, bright, cheery chords. There's a bit of flatness to the D7 but played on the higher strings and strummed right after the A# brightens the chord up. Then you've got C major and G minor, which have a bit of a disagreement with each other. One's higher up - the guy plays all these chords between the fifth and seventh frets, but he places C major way up on the 8th fret - and the other, G minor, is darker and bitter.

It translates, for me, into a personality that is in general bright and striving to have a happy face that also has a caring element to it, while at the same time not always getting things out the way he wants to or means to, and underneath it all has a hidden feeling of disappointment and bitterness at what he's had happen in life, or not happen. The A# is bright and happy, the D7 brightly interested and caring, the C off in the other direction and of different opinion or feeling than most, and the G minor bitter and lacking, poker-faced.

I like the G minor the most partly because I do feel that way at the moment, but also because I think I've, at least in the past ten years, always had an underlying feeling of bitterness or a darker view of people and circumstances in general. I'm not saying I'm angry or anti-social or pessimistic, but rather lacking in what I should have made a better effort to do for myself. I've met some pretty interesting people, but it's my fault just as much. So it's an inner bitterness, not an exterior one projected entirely at the world.

The C really refers to how I'm kind of different from most typical people, at least socially or how I think about things, or perceive them. And the first two chords are just as evident and true and meaningful - that's my outer face, or the one I'm striving to always have regardless of the situation. Perhaps it's one I like to imagine having or see myself having, but not always succeeding in maintaining.

I've tried playing it on my guitar. The A#, D7, and G minor aren't difficult, but the C is (which is exactly as it sounds to me) because it's way up on the eighth fret, and by that point they're quite narrow; I have to put two fingers on the same fret for strings next to each other, another a fret to the right (left-handed) and another finger barring the entire 8th fret. Not a difficult position to attain at the bottom of the neck, but at the bottom, it wouldn't sound outwardly different in its brightness compared to the other three.

I've got my musical moment, though. It's a rare one in which I see my general personality virtually perfectly. And this is from a song I thought as a 13-year-old was lazy and boring. No way man. It's gentle and bright and something to wind down to. I love bright guitar sounds. The easy pace.

'Walking back from your house...'

Red Cloud

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


About a month ago, my father got in contact with me after a month's silence. Having moved across the ocean to the middle east for a big career opportunity (he is in charge of the Canadian embassy in Iraq while the full ambassador is out, one big step towards working his way to being a full Canadian ambassador and Plenipotentiary) our contact is very sporadic. He tried creating a Facebook profile, but only got as far as adding me as a friend and locating a photo I hadn't gotten around to e-mailing him. Social media isn't his thing.

Not that his business is what I'm devoting this post to, but in late August, John Baird made a stop to the country to meet with officials and proclaim that Canada is on their side in being allies against ISIS (or ISIL, whatever they're called). As a result, the e-mail my father sent me was of him standing in a small group with Baird. It was, in a small way, kind of cool. At least he was getting in on the events and action his job probably promised him.

That turned out not to be all, however. This morning, the National Post, which I follow on Twitter, retweeted a post by John Baird. It had nothing to do with what it got me thinking about or anything, just made me wonder if there were perhaps any other images that happened to be taken.

There was.
The image is self-explanatory, though my Dad is on the left edge, looking on.

And so the man who never found social media calling him forward ended up inserted on there by none other than the Foreign Affairs Minister himself.

I find it kind of ironic. Yes, it's cool that my own father is hanging out with all these important people  in Iraq and getting his picture taken by a minister of the federal government, but hey, looks like I'm not the only one uploading pictures on social media that include him. If he ever made an effort on Facebook, this picture could be his cover photo. Taken courtesy of John Baird. An important man with important responsibilities. Perfect for an 'about.'

Yeah, I find it ironic and funny. Two of his brothers are on Facebook, and his sister has that as well as Twitter and all the other social media sites, but he only exists as a presence of any kind thanks to his eldest son and a government minister.

I haven't found any desire to pack my bags and travel to Jordan, the base for his family, yet. In the limited time I saw my half-siblings this past summer when they visited, they described the place as boring and limiting in things to do other than go to a mall. Not that I don't ever want to go - it seems like it could be a neat place to travel to - but it might be awhile. If that time comes, I'll definitely be sure to post some pictures. And I hope my father does end up as a full diplomat in the capacity my grandpa had back in the day. Then he'll probably have to deal with social media.

Red Cloud

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fly Day

Eleven years ago, my mother saw an ad in the paper, on my 12th birthday, of a 'Fly Day' going on at the Ottawa Flying Club, at the international airport. Knowing how insanely excited and hopeful to want to do something like that, my mother took me and my then-friend Jahdel on a couple of bus rides to the flying club on Huntclub Road.

Being three people, it was a wait of at least an hour.
When we did get on a plane, it was a tiny thing - apparently the small ones are called Cessnas. The pilot explained things, and then we taxied to the runway and took off.

It was my first time flying. I'd never seen any of the city from that perspective before - by that time I'd seen and become obsessed with aerial photos of it, but I'd never been up there before. All the aerial photos I'd seen were taken looking straight-down. Looking out the window, you could look out at the distance and landscape as well.
Looking east over South Keys.

It was extremely exhilarating for me. I'd never seen so much at once before. Places and settings I'd always viewed as large or all-around from the ground - such as a road like Merivale or big trees, or malls - appeared either remarkably small or just tiny. Tiny cars sluggishly moved along the roads. I saw a lot of familiar places, although not the neighbourhood in which I lived at the time (the tour went in a circle around the city rather than through it).
Passing Arlington Woods in the west end.

My mother took all the photos with her Kodak film point and shoot. I couldn't wait for the photos to be developed. Most of them were of areas I didn't recognize that well, or of downtown, but they were still pretty neat.

Back then, I only knew that that was the only time that the Flying Club did this sort of thing. I thought it was a once-only event. The best birthday. Until yesterday, when a friend of mine on Facebook posted about it, having just been. What?!

Within half an hour I was above Ottawa again, sitting up front this time, with a mother and her son in the back. I drove to the airport in fifteen minutes, paid $40, registered the ticket, and because I was on my own, instead of waiting an hour, I was on the plane in five minutes with two strangers. This time I had my Canon 7D dSLR camera, with a wide-angle lens on it. This would be much clearer and brilliant compared to the little 4x6 point and shoot photos.

We set off in the opposite direction than in 2003. We went straight northwest instead of northeast. I was ready.
The woods just by Grenfell Glen, during the ascent to 2,000 feet. Sept. 27.

I took up to one-hundred images. We flew towards Bayshore, and then arced so we were flying alongside the Ottawa River.
I've always thought that the round curve of Centrepointe made it look like a burlap sack. The obviousness of the grey Merivale Road commercial strip is evident in the background.
West Huntclub snakes through the land. For some reason this image is squeezed.

Like the last time, we went in a large circle, going the opposite direction this time around. We started over the communities of Pine Glen and Merivale Gardens, etc., passed west across Woodroffe Ave. and Craig Henry, and eventually headed by Bayshore. We arced to fly over Gatineau alongside the Ottawa River.
The amazing thing about flying at this height is the distance you can see. You can virtually see Woodroffe Avenue in its whole entirety in this image - beginning at the Ottawa River Parkway near the bottom and fading away into the distance - whereupon it terminates at Prince of Whales Drive at the Rideau River past Barrhaven. Places like Algonquin College's campus and Baseline Station are tiny, narrow points along the road. Baseline station, when you zoom into the image at the maximum pixel density, is about an inch long. The big pedestrian bridge between Algonquin's B building and the new-ish construction building is hardly visible, as well as the rail bridge further down.

2,000 feet is a very good balance for height because while you can see so far looking ahead, you can also look straight down and see people and smaller objects like poles or stop signs, or even birds and seagulls flying much lower below. You get a vivid amount of detail as well as visibility in all directions, going very far.

This entire flight was an extremely big deal for me. For one thing, I hadn't done this in eleven years. For another, the very feeling of being up in the air, over everything - it's something I long for and feel completely at home in. I feel free in a way - you're going very fast, virtually gliding through the air in any direction you want, nothing in your way. You don't have to follow a road or a path, or walk around buildings or trees or fences. You're above it all. And you can see virtually everything - it's an entirely new perspective. I can look at these photos I took and marvel at how many familiar buildings I shot in this perspective, as well as how far away I can see them from (if you know where to look, in the above image, the roof of the Merivale Centennial Arena (or Tom Brown Arena) is easily visible in the far distance. Why? It's a tiny, insignificant building. Because the grey-white roof reflects sunlight extremely well, so it's easy to pick out even across the Ottawa River).

It's also just the way everything is so much smaller and low. Buildings look like little models. I'm used to virtually everything in the world being bigger or taller than me - now all of that is way below, smaller. These images have some impact, but not nearly as much as being up there does.

I strongly think that in the near future, I'll end up taking flying lessons. Find a way to capture aerial photos at the same time. When I get my real career started, it can be something I do on the weekends. That along with building my own recording studio. As long as I focus entirely on my homework and my studies now.
Bank Street/Alta Vista intersection.

We continued east until we banked towards the eastern side of the city and came back towards facing the runway; we flew over Olgilvie Road and St. Laurent, over Alta Vista, past South Keys, and eventually the runway, descending since just after Alta Vista. The plane ride really was only twenty minutes, but I got that rare, amazing, brilliant glimpse of the whole city as it was on that day. I love aerial photography because it really does capture a record of what the city, or a section of it, looks like on that day and time. Ottawa in September 2014. There's the old military base and its empty, houseless streets, there's the new apartment building under construction off of Merivale Road. One street in Centrepointe appears to have more yellow trees than the rest, having already turned their autumn colour. On Friday, I had lunch with my mother at Red Lobster in the plaza at Meadowlands and Merivale; Saturday, I got a picture of it - as well as the whole road itself, and everything around it.

Yeah, I'm definitely going to start frequenting the flying club and school. I talked to someone afterwards and heard that they're always interested in taking people up. Maybe next time I can get some real, direct pictures of Barrhaven and Parkwood Hills.
Sports field, South Keys.

I'm on my way to new highs. After all, if I was born to do anything, it's to get high.

Red Cloud